As a passenger in a car accident, the right steps to take can be unclear. If you're injured, what are your options to recover as a passenger in an accident that wasn't your fault? Additionally, what if your friend or loved one was behind the wheel and responsible for the incident? Navigating these situations can feel awkward and intense. In this article, we'll discuss how to get around these feelings and understand what legal options may exist to help you get your life back on track.
If you've been hurt as a passenger in a car accident, you may be entitled to financial, physical, and psychological recovery. Don't wait – call or text our car accident lawyers in Arizona or New Mexico today to learn more about your options at 602-345-1818. You may also fill out our convenient online form here.
Directly Following the Accident
If you've been in an accident, regardless if you are the driver or passenger, there are certain steps to take to ensure everyone is safe and any subsequent case you may have is protected. After a car accident, follow this checklist:
- Make sure everyone is safe
- Call for medical assistance if needed
- Stay on the scene until the police arrive
- Call the authorities – do NOT skip this step, even if the accident is minor
- Obtain contact information from other drivers involved
- Obtain information from potential eyewitnesses
- Collect evidence if it's safe to do so, such as photographing or taking video footage of the scene, property damage, etc
- Refrain from posting on social media
- See a doctor; even if you “feel fine” following the accident; remember that potential injuries may not be evident until days after the accident has happened
Potential Legal Options
Injured passengers in car accidents, generally, have an easier route to legal recovery. Depending on who is at fault in the accident, passengers may be able to seek compensation for their injuries in the following common ways:
- File a claim with the other driver's insurance company
- File a claim with your driver's insurance company
- File a claim with your own insurance company
We'll walk through how these scenarios may play out below. However, it's important that you consult an experienced car accident lawyer in Arizona or New Mexico to understand which route may be best for you depending on the specific facts of your case. There may be additional options available in your case that aren't available in every case, such as in the event that an outside party has contributed to the accident, such as an employer of the driver.
Filing a Claim with the At-Fault Driver's Insurance
The first step is determining who is liable for the accident. In Arizona and New Mexico, fault can be shared among multiple at-fault parties. This is called Comparative Negligence. When fault is shared, things can get complicated quickly. Generally, when multiple drivers are proven to be at fault, passengers may have to go through two or more insurance companies. Once fault has been established, insurance negotiations will commence.
For our explanation purposes, let's keep it simple. Let's say that a friend is behind the wheel when he hits a light pole. Typically, for a driver to hit a stationary object, negligence existed, such as speeding or distracted driving. In this case, you'll submit a claim to your friend's insurance company. Many injured passengers feel that this is awkward. It's important to remember that you're entitled to recovery, too, and you will be negotiating with your friend's insurance company, not your friend.
In the event that your friend is driving and hits another driver, it may be difficult to initially determine fault. In this case, you may file a claim with both your friend's insurance company and the other driver's company. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer will help you determine the best route to go, depending on your case.
In some cases, you may need to file with your own insurance company. Some reasons for this may include:
- The liable parties don't have insurance at all or enough insurance to cover your injuries
- You need payment to cover your injuries more quickly to potentially be reimbursed later
Accidents in which passengers are injured and fault is shared among parties can be very complicated, so getting the opinion of a car accident lawyer is vital.
Contact Impact Legal for a Free Consultation
If you're an injured passenger with many questions about your legal options, call or text us at 602-345-1818 today. We'll help you navigate this complicated situation and advise you of the best route to go depending on your circumstances. Our initial consultations are completely free. Schedule yours today by contacting us at the number above, or filling out our convenient online form located here.
Note that our online content, such as this blog post, is intended to provide only general information to a general audience. It is not intended to be a substitute for actual legal advice. For legal advice, contact a car accident attorney about your case.